Posted by: knightbird | February 11, 2011

“Make This Problem Go Away”

I have heard this phrase said by CEO’s any number of times. They don’t like problems. They want solutions. And they typically try to throw money at the problem to make it go away by adding positions (often crutch positions). If you don’t like defective products going to your customer, hire inspectors to take out the defective products that slip through the manufacturing process. Your program filings with the Feds are defective, put in oversight by managers and officers. You fear that a grant writer may over commit the organization, put in 10, 20, or as even occurred in one case, 92 points of review and approval. “Make this problem go away”—“I am willing to pay big so I don’t have to see this problem again.”

I think of this phase as being akin to makeup. I have a blemish, and want to make it go away in the eyes of the public. Put on makeup. My midriff bulge is showing, put on a girdle. My hair is turning grey, so dye it back to my original color. It’s all window dressing. I still have that blemish, you just can’t see it. The bulge is still there, and the grey is only covered over with a fresh coat of paint that will eventually grow out.

I also see many executives make the problem going away by using misdirection, or shading the results of surveys, redefining performance measures or the most atrocious of executive trickery, blaming and firing an employee. And they don’t refer to the problems during shareholder or membership meetings. And when the trickery catches up to an executive, they manage to slip away by using the results of their trickery to land another job and pass the problems they avoided onto another new and unaware executive.

There is a different and more effective and simple way to make a problem go away, and that is to welcome the problem—AS A TEAM, acknowledge it, understand it, analyze it, talk about solutions in a team gathering, brainstorm, research and seek creative solutions, then implement the proposed solutions and adjustments to the proposed solution until you have addressed the problem. And after that, celebrate the solution, and resume continuously improving that solutions. To be able to use this solution—the Lean solution—you will need to empower your employees to manage their value streams and participate in helping their coworkers manage their value streams. You need to teach them the tools to do that, and let them loose. If you can figure out how to do this, you will never have to tell another employee to “Make this problem go away.” They will already have it done.




  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark Graban, petrihuitti. petrihuitti said: RT @LeanBlog: Patrick Anderson: “Make This Problem Go Away” #lean #CEO […]

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